FILE PHOTO: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
September 13, 2021
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on Monday proposed a major rollback of Trump-era tax cuts on corporations and wealthy Americans to raise as much as $2.9 trillion to fund Democratic President Joe Biden’s social spending plans.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s proposal https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-house-democrats-seek-corporate-tax-increase-265-percent-2021-09-13 will be debated within the tax-writing committee in coming days, but is likely to be altered in weeks of negotiations with the White House and moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate.
Following are key elements of Neal’s proposal, based on the committee’s public description and contents of an internal document circulated among lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill and seen by Reuters.
INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAXES
– Boosts the top individual tax rate to its pre-2017 level of 39.6%, from 37% currently, for taxable income above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for married couples. Biden proposed the same top rate, but kicking in at higher thresholds of $452,700 for individuals and $509,300 for married couples.
– Adds a surcharge of 3% on taxable income above $5 million.
– Prohibits contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts when the combined balances of an individual earning more than $400,000 reach $10 million, to curb so-called “mega-IRAs.” Minimum distributions would also be required at these levels, boosting taxable incomes.
– Caps deductions for qualified business income at $400,000 for individuals and $500,000 for married couples. Permanently disallows deduction of excess business losses by individuals.
CAPITAL GAINS TAXES
– Increases the top long-term capital gains tax rate to 25% from 20% on individuals with taxable income over $400,000. Biden had proposed nearly doubling the capital gains rate to 39.6% for those earning over $1 million – a far bigger increase on a much narrower field of taxpayers.
– Preserves a tax break for carried interest income, but shrinks it by lengthening the holding period for most assets to five years from three years currently to qualify for capital gains rates.
– Accelerates by four years the expiration of Republicans’ temporary doubling of an exemption from estate taxes to $24 million passed in 2017. The expanded exemption would now expire at the end of this year.
– Adds other changes to capture revenue from inheritance of nonfarm and nonbusiness assets held by grantor trusts or in partial ownership. But it excludes Biden’s proposed elimination of the “step-up” in valuation of estate assets to current market rates that now occurs on the date of a person’s death – a proposal sharply criticized by Republicans.
CORPORATE, SMALL BUSINESS TAXES
– Increases the top corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21% currently, but below the 28% proposed by Biden.
– Returns to a pre-2017 system of graduated corporate taxes, with a cut to 18% for small firms with income below $400,000, an unchanged 21% for companies earning up to $5 million and 26.5% thereafter.
– Raises the minimum tax rate on corporate overseas income to about 16.5% from about 10.5% currently. This is lower than Biden’s proposed 21% rate, but closer to the minimum rate of at least 15% agreed by 134 countries participating in OECD tax negotiations.
– Reduces the percentage of foreign income that can be excluded from the minimum tax to 5% from 10%.
– Redefines the current Base Erosion Anti-Abuse (BEAT) tax to be closer to Biden administration’s SHIELD tax proposal to combat the use of tax havens, and raises the rate to 10% in 2022, 12.5% in 2024 and 15% in 2026.
– Doubles the current rate of excise taxes on cigarettes, small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco. Taxes large cigars and smokeless tobacco by weight at $49.56 per pound. These increases would appear to be at odds with Biden’s pledge against raising taxes on people earning less than $400,000.
– Imposes a new excise tax on nicotine, such as that delivered through vaping devices, that would be equivalent to the same rate for cigarettes per 1,180 milligrams of nicotine.
– Provides $80 billion to the Internal Revenue Service over 10 years to improve tax enforcement on high-income taxpayers, in line with Biden’s proposal.
– Denies charitable deductions for conservation easements claimed by partnerships and other pass-through entities if the amount exceeds 2.5 times the sum of each partner’s cost basis in the donated property.
STATE AND LOCAL TAXES (SALT)
– The proposal did not address many Democrats’ calls for scrapping a cap on state and local tax deductions imposed in 2018. Neal said in a statement he was committed to “meaningful SALT relief.”
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)